Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When life is messy, expensive, too busy, and ridiculously great...

Charlie... enjoying life on my lap in his teenage years... those nose freckles kill me...  

I have to admit... this summer has been challenging. It's funny to look back around April when I was trying to decide how many grad school classes to take over the summer. I really wanted to take 2, because if I took 2 classes in the summer, and 2 classes next fall... I could be considered mid-way through my program, like most of my classmates...

However, after some much needed guidance from the husband and my wellness coach Cheryl... I realized, I should probably just stick with one class, at least for the shorter summer semester. Boy, did that end up being good advice.

Healthwise, everyone is fine. And that is a huge blessing. Housewise... after living in our home 8+ years now, we knew it was seriously time to start cracking down on some major repairs... which led to the discovery of one REALLY BAD contractor... and two very good ones. The bad contractor made life miserably uncomfortable for nearly a week. The good contractors fixed the mess left behind by the bad contractor and were wonderful... however all of that came at a cost.

Then, as with most things in life... when you start fixing problems... you run into more problems... so now we're working with a plumber to get the "newly-found-pool-located-under-the-house" dried up and the leak fixed...

M and 10 year old Emma. Our "new" 45 pound hamster... 

Throw in a new dog (long story...) with our five cats, a husband having 3 teeth removed for future braces, training a co-worker to be able to fully do my job (in the event of zombies or ya know taking a vacation or something...) and 6 assignments due at one time... I tell ya... I was really thankful for that advice to only take one class.

Something I truly struggle with in life is comparing myself to others and snowballing problems when they arise. Why can't I handle more classes? All my other classmates are... Why can't I handle getting a presentation for work done on top of life when it's crazy? Why do finances always seem to get drained at one time?  We won't even throw in the other natural frustrations that women often have like the "why can't I just be naturally thin... and eat all the cupcakes I want?" Why? Why? Whyyyyyyyy?

It's easy to fall into the "why" instead of accepting the "now."

Whiskey Jack, who always lives in "the now." 

"Now", just is.  It just is. There isn't necessarily a reason, there's no need to worry or wonder... you can simply be right here, right now. There are times when it's the hardest thing you will ever do... like the night when my Dad was barely hanging onto the last strands of life within him (and thank God he held on tight)... but there are other times when you realize accepting the "now" is the best place you can be.

Right now, the house is a mess... there's dog hair and dog slobber all over the kitchen floor even though I swept it two days ago.... Right now, my hair really needs to be washed and it probably looks greasy on top.... Right now, I have no clean white socks... Right now, the refrigerator is pretty empty and payday is a week away... Right now, we have a fan blowing through the crawl space at the house in the hopes the water from the leaky pipe will dry up...  Right now America feels like it's in the midst of a very dark storm, which has been heartbreaking to watch, devastating to hear, and everyone, EVERYONE feels it...

But also Right now, my dad is safe, resting with his feet up, probably watching a favorite classic movie on TV... or snoozing away the afternoon in his favorite recliner. Also right now... while the fridge might be empty, there's a filled up pantry and freezer and it's a fun time to get creative... Right now, we still have a 2nd bathroom to take a shower in and it was darn good timing to catch a bad leak... Right now there are people in my life who, because of programs like Obamacare (despite the room for necessary improvement) are actually healthy now because they were able to get the surgery or medicine they needed to make life "a-whole-lot-more-worth" living... Right now there's a happy, tail-waggin' dog waiting for me to get home to go on our 2nd walk of the day and I'm truly looking forward to that walk.

If I've learned anything the past few years it's that life comes in seasons. Busy seasons, messy seasons, scary seasons, fun seasons, expensive seasons... And sometimes all those seasons get mixed together in one big wallop. Usually, we don't know why. Often the best thing you can do is hang on, figure out where you're at right now, adjust your perspective if necessary, and just be.  (And on some nights, it's ALSO okay to know that a bowl of Breyers natural vanilla never hurts either...)

Some Cool Stuff I wish I wrote this week: 

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Just a few small changes...

Dogwood blossoms in the front yard
photo by carrie forbes

So it's a little different around here. I'm still working on the blog redesign so please bear with me!

Looking for a recipe? They aren't going anywhere! Check out the recipe index for older recipes and if you can't find something try a google search by using the food term, such as "cookies" and then typing "gingerlemongirl" and you'll find it! If you don't have any luck, just send me an email (gingerlemongirl at gmail dot com) and I'll be glad to find it for you and send you the link... and hopefully before too long, I'll have that recipe index completely up to date!

However, life is different... cooking is literally on the back burner and it just doesn't happen very often anymore. Instead I'm going to grad school (at a snail's pace... one little class at a time...), I'm focusing on self-care and wellness, I'm reading Murder, She Wrote novels (and watching the reruns allll the time on netflix when I have downtime), spending time with friends and family when we can, and focusing a lot more on building my ninja librarian skills!

In the meantime I'm writing the great American novel... 

Ha! Maybe one day... 

I plan to use this space in the future to share more of my writing, photography, coloring, thoughts on life (faith, philosophy, social justice, favorite movies? you just never know...) and occasionally a recipe may still pop up.

Oh and cat pictures... always cat pictures! :-)

Till next time! :-) Be well.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Simple Gluten-Free Banana Nut Muffins and Fall Photos

I've made quite a few banana nut muffins over the years... such as these, and these, and even these... but yesterday I just wanted the easiest recipe I could find.

I flipped through my baking cookbook and found a recipe that used my "master baking mix" (you could substitute gluten-free bi$quick or your favorite all-purpose GF baking mix) but I didn't have any on hand...  so I made it work for what I did have on hand:

Simple Gluten-Free Banana Nut Muffins
gluten-free, can be dairy-free, no xanthan or guar gums, can be egg-free
serves 12
print-friendly recipe

Dry Ingredients: 
2 cups gluten-free flour of YOUR choice -OR- my current favorite blend:
     -2/3 cup brown rice flour
     -2/3 cup arrowroot starch
     -2/3 cup almond flour (I prefer Honeyville)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Wet Ingredients:
2 medium bananas, mashed to oblivion (about 1 cup of banana puree)
2 large eggs (or egg substitutes)
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup non-dairy milk mixed with 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice)
2 tablespoons lite olive oil -or- melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Line a muffin pan with paper liners and spritz them with non-stick cooling oil or lite olive oil.
  • In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients. 
  • In a smaller bowl whisk together all wet ingredients.
  • Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients and just mix until all the dry ingredients have been thoroughly incorporated into the wet ingredients. 
  • Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, spoon batter into a greased or paper-lined muffin tins until at least 3/4 full - but you can fill to the top, they will just rise taller.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, testing the middle with a toothpick inserted in the middle (should come out clean) to make sure the muffins are done. 
  • Cool on a wire rack and serve. These muffins can be stored on the counter for up to 3 days and they will retain their moisture. I would freeze them in small packages after that. 


Michael's mom playing with Charlie during a recent visit... 

In other news... I'm headed towards the end of my first graduate class and trying to get caught up on my last few assignments... because this final paper is not going to write itself...

Michael had a double ear-infection over the past week and I hope I NEVER have to see him go through something like that again. Talk about serious pain. I felt so bad for him. Thankfully after 3 trips to the doctor and 2 rounds of antibiotics + a huge antibiotic shot over the past three weeks, he's doing much better. And trust me on this one...after all that medication, give your loved ones probiotics... probiotics are the bee's knees my friends! Do it people!

I can't believe how FAST this semester has flown by.... I'm not sure if it's because I'm older and time in general seems to go by faster now or if school just has a way of making life do that... but I kinda wish it would slow down a bit! :-)

Happy Fall Everyone!

This guy has been lurking in the pecan tree over the past few weeks! We still can't believe he let Michael get this close!

Best buddies for life! Charlie & Whiskey Jack

So THIS was the publication that people
found a familiar face in... 

It's actually a 2nd printing from last year, which was why I was so surprised to see it!
Fun to see yourself in the drug store magazine selection though! :-) 

Our super sweet niece Cheyenne... 

Cheyenne decided I needed a friend to take home with me...
heart = melted!

Michael took this at the duck pond at work one morning. I love fall sunrises! 

Michael and his siblings.  So good to see them all together!

Fall decluttering... it took two loads to get it all in the car to Goodwill... and I'm not done yet...

Charlie's favorite spot!

A favorite shot of my father-in-law.. love this guy!

Gluten-free cupcakes I made for a friend's birthday.
I loved how the frosting turned out (Good ol' Pillsbury...). Used this recipe

All the snuggles and the sticking out of tongues!

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Afternoon Coffee, Procrastination, and Peanut Butter Cookies

Don't judge... Yes, that's instant coffee! I'm the only one who drinks coffee in the GLG household, I don't like the environmental impact of K-cups.. and let me tell you, Nescafe is darn better than Sanka (well, Sanka circa 1990 which tasted like charcoal.. I haven't tried it lately though... ;-) 

It's a quiet Sunday, I was enjoying a small afternoon cup of coffee and I pulled out my "Introduction to Library and Information Science" to begin reading chapters 8, 9, 10  for my assignment next week and then it dawned on me, it was a great time to make cookies.  I know, I thought it was brilliant timing too! 

My favorite peanut butter cookies are the ol'  "1 cup of peanut butter + 1 cup sugar + 1 egg" recipe... but I didn't want to use THAT much peanut butter (do you know how expensive peanut butter is these days?) or THAT much sugar... or really...let's be honest...do I need THAT many cookies?

Probably, I don't need any cookies...

A few months ago I bought a used hardback copy of the 1974 edition of the Joy of Cooking. I wanted to get a copy I could actually use since the beloved paperback that my Dad had when I was growing up, is literally falling apart.

I love that cookbook. His favorite chocolate chip cookies came from Ms. Irma Rombauer and probably a bunch of other meals we used to eat growing up like meatloaf, oyster stew, and chicken a' la King. I wonder where Irma learned to make chicken a' la King.

These are basically the peanut butter cookies in Joy of Cooking (1974 ed.), but I made them gluten-free (of course) and halved the recipe. You could easily make this recipe egg free, If you choose to do that I would replace it with 1 tablespoon of water mixed with 1 teaspoon of ground flax seeds. Stir that mixture together and allow it to 'gel.'

If you decide to double the recipe below, just use a whole egg instead of an egg white (or double up on the flax seed substitute.)

Basic Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from the 1974 edition of 'Joy of Cooking' by Irma Rombauer
gluten-free, soy-free, easily egg-free, vegetarian
yields 30 - 1.5" cookies

Wet Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine of choice, (or even extra peanut butter if you're a big fan)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (we like chunky, all natural)
  • 1 egg white (or 1 tablespoon water mixed with 1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Dry Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot starch (or starch of choice -- potato starch, cornstarch, tapioca starch, etc...)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. In a large bowl cream together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and peanut butter, until creamy and fluffy.
  3. Stir in the egg white and vanilla. 
  4. In another bowl whisk together all dry ingredients. 
  5. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until you have a sticky, slightly wet cookie dough. 
  6. Drop batter by small spoonfuls (about a teaspoon and a half per cookie) onto the cookie sheet. Placing a few inches between each cookie - we make 12 cookies per batch. 
  7. Flatten cookies by gently pressing with the back of a fork in a criss-cross pattern. To keep the fork from sticking to the cookie, dip in granulated sugar between criss-crosses. 
  8. Bake for 11-14 minutes until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. 

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